Odin (/ˈoʊdɪn/ or /ˈoʊðɪn/, from Old Norse Óðinn), is considered the chief god in Norse paganism. Homologous with the Anglo-Saxon Wōden and the Old High German Wotan, it is descended from Proto-Germanic *Wōđinaz or *Wōđanaz.
The name Odin is generally accepted as the modern translation; although, in some cases, older translations of his name may be used or preferred. His name is related to óðr, meaning “fury, excitation”, besides “mind”, or “poetry”. His role, like many of the Norse gods, is complex.
He is associated with wisdom, war, battle, and death, and also magic, poetry, prophecy, victory, and the hunt.
The cult of Odin places a premium on canny strategy and cunning solutions to problems. Followers of Odin constantly seek new knowledge as an advantage over their foes. Paradoxically, the cult promotes self-reliance by relating tales of Odin turning against favored kings and generals in the midst of battle. The cult practices ritual hanging and piercing by spears in emulation of their patron deity, but in reality the hangings and injuries are purely tests and cause no lasting harm. Purposely destroying or removing an eye to emulate Odin is shameful to the cult, though an eye’s loss in battle is considered a mark of favor from Odin. The cult makes and loses allies easily. If a ruler takes an advisor from the cult lightly or disregards advice, the advisor may leave without warning or even switch sides to the ruler’s enemy.
Clergy and Temples
Odin’s clerics generally wear dark, wide-brimmed hats, cloaks decorated with or made entirely of raven’s feathers, and patches over their (intact) left eyes. They permit no one to lift or touch these patches. They share their knowledge sparingly, and generally only to those who demonstrate that they come to the cult as a last resort, after all other avenues have been explored. Odin’s temples are generally large, raucous halls. Those not distracted by the noise, carousing, and brawling notice the thickness of the walls, the lack of windows, and the heavy bars ready at each door. If the faithful close and bar the doors, the halls become sturdy forts. Private areas of the temples include libraries and extensive collections of scrying devices. Outside civilized areas, shrines to Odin are common in wild places that offer wide vistas of the surrounding country. Visitors to Odin’s temples receive a warm welcome, a tankard of mead, and a plate of food. They rarely attract more attention than that unless they’ve come to sell or trade spells, knowledge, or magic items. Consequently, sorcerers and wizards receive the best treatment and can usually find free meals and a free place to sleep as long as they can demonstrate their contributions to the advancement of magic.